Summertime-style fishing returned this past week with a vengeance bred of hunger.

Capt. David Bacon

Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

Big, grumpy sand bass with grumbling tummies, along some of their cousins — calico bass — staked out many of our near-shore reef zones, then waited and watched. Water temperatures were just right — 64 to 66 degrees — for what they had in their instinctive little minds. As they probably expected, big schools of anchovies and sardines (we call the tightly packed schools “baitballs”) moved into our area. The bass began rubbing their fins together with glee.

Each time a baitball moves up over a rocky reef or shipwreck, it’s like lighting the fuse on what turns out to be an explosive bass bite. The hungry bass roar up from the structure, attacking the school of forage fish from below. Cormorants and shearwaters — both efficient underwater predators — dive and attack the baitball from above. The forage fish have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. The food chain rattles wildly as life and death interact in a blaze of fury.

Anglers are happily encountering these opportunities for a fine bass dinner. We’re smiling because it is a rare situation for this time of year. Usually this kind of bass attack comes in mid- to late summer rather that the latter part of autumn.

El Niño? Maybe. Whatever the cause, we’ve got a spot of warmer water here. The fish are taking advantage of it, and so are we. A fresh fish dinner is a delight. The key is “fresh.” Hours fresh vs. several days old — but still called fresh — makes for a surprising difference in the taste and texture of fish flesh. When it’s cooked the same day as it’s caught, a fish filet has a richness to be savored.

Hmmm, as I write this, I find my tummy grumbling and my taste buds influencing my mind. I better close and take out the boat. I know what’s for dinner tonight.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

Capt. David Bacon, Noozhawk Columnist

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.